Resident gives idea to make Coon Rapids public works department more efficient

Resident Terry Rust came to a recent Coon Rapids City Council open mike session to give ideas that he said would make the public works department run more efficiently.

According to Rust, these were efficiencies that had been implemented by the transportation and trucking industry.

Specifically, Rust proposed:

• Installing automatic idle shut off on all trucks and heavy equipment.

• Installing GPS units on all public works vehicles to monitor routes and locations.

• Modifying street sweeping staffing and procedures to provide one operator for both the sweeper and dump truck.

“These are proven efficiencies in the transportation business,” Rust said. “More and more are using them, not just the large companies, but now the smaller companies.”

In a report to the council, Steve Gatlin, then acting city manager/public works director, said they were very good ideas worth further consideration.

According to Gatlin, the automatic idle shut offs would be reviewed with public works department mechanics and the fleet maintenance supervisor.

“If appropriate, these will be considered for installation on our fleet in an attempt to minimize idling and save fuel,” Gatlin wrote. “We currently have a ‘no idle’ policy where we suggest employees do not park trucks and idle engines.”

The city has started to install GPS units on its public works vehicles beginning with one street sweeper, Gatlin wrote. “We will be continuing this effort in the future in an attempt to better manage our fleet by monitoring location, maximizing route efficiency, etc,” he wrote.

But Gatlin said that having one operator for both street sweeper and dump truck is not the most efficient way to handle street sweeping.

Because the sweepers are mechanical and air units that travel on the road to their site and are not taken by trailer, they provide a continuous sweeping in which the operator continues to operate the sweeper, while the dump box has to be periodically emptied into a rotating fleet of dump trucks that drive along with the sweeper operator and dispose of the street sweepings, according to Gatlin.

“During heavy sweeping periods in the spring and fall, two or three trucks service each sweeper,” Gatlin wrote.

“To have the operator of the sweeper also drive the dump truck would mean the continuous sweeping operation would be interrupted. The method we currently use is the method used by most municipalities in their operations…”

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]